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  • The Development of Tea Culture in Africa

    African Tea Culture

    Tea was first grown in Africa in 1850 at Durban botanical gardens. A small scale plantation industry resulted from this in the Natel area in 1877; this was a direct result of a coffee failure similar to that seen in Sri Lanka, due to the coffee rust fungus. By the time of the second world war there were approximately 800 ha of tea being grown in the area; these areas no longer grow the crops.

    Tea Plantations in South Africa

    These original areas have been replaced by plantations on the eastern slopes of Massif mountain in Eastern transvaal. These plantations were first created by the South African Industrial Development Corporation, and are situated at an altitude of between 900 and 1200 metres.

    The oldest surviving areas of tea production in Africa can be found in Malawi. Tea was first cultivated in malawi in 1878, unfortunately this introduction of tea cultivation in malawi was unsuccessful. By procuring seed from Kew gardens the establishment of the first tea estate in malawi was planted in 1891.

    Tea Cultivation in East Africa

    By the beginning of the 20th century tea was being grown in three east African counties, these being Tanzania (Amani), Kenya (Limuru) and the then Uganda (Entebbe).

    African Tea Plantation
    Photograph of Tea Plantation in Zambezia, East Africa by Rosino.

    It was not until after the first world war that the commercial growing of tea occurred in these countries, with three companies operating in the east african rift valley in Kenya. this area has remained at the forefront of tea cultivation in Africa.

    In the mid to late nineteen twenties tea plantations were established in the southern highlands of Tanzania and then the Usambara mountains. Tea cultivation in Uganda followed in the following decade.